The other morning I woke at 3.30am to head to the airport. I felt physically ill, like I had been winded or wounded or worse - woken at 3.30am and expected to stand upright and act normally. My eyes were puffy and sore, my arms ached, I felt like I had been turned inside out. The coffee I desperately needed tasted of acid, the toast I ate tasted like mattress… Or was I just wishing it did?
I was, of course, being a little dramatic but this disruption to my normal life threw me off course into a day of delirium. I wanted to cry - sad, sorry tears - for the loss of sleep and the expectation that I could carry on as normal.
Of course, the CIA uses sleep deprivation as a form of torture which, to be fair, sounds milder than chopping off fingers or electric shocks. But still, over extended periods, I'm pretty confident it would turn you crazy. "Prolonged sleep deprivation is an especially insidious form of torture because it attacks the deep biological functions at the core of a person's mental and physical health" - that's what some chick from Psychology Today said and I believe her.
The first signs of sleep deprivation are unpleasant feelings of fatigue, irritability, and difficulties concentrating. Then come problems with reading and speaking clearly, poor judgment, lower body temperature, and a considerable increase in appetite. If the deprivation continues, the worsening effects include disorientation, visual misperceptions, apathy, severe lethargy, and social withdrawal. It will eventually lead to death following a failure of all vital organs. I realise this is a little bit more than you hope for over your Saturday cuppa but it's important!
We have started, as a culture, to dismiss sleep. It's the wont of lazy folk, people who lack ambition and focus, it's for the weak. People brag about only needing five hours and I feel myself seething with jealousy at their head start on me. Then I think of my plush, feathery pillow and hit snooze.
Sleep is now one of life's greatest luxuries so why do we dismiss it? Why do we feel guilty when we take an extra hour in bed? Sleep is like medicine, it fixes us. We regenerate as we sleep, it's why your skin looks better after a good kip and why you work better after a full eight hours. On an emotional level, sleep is the greatest gift you can give yourself.
It's possible that I'm viewing it through rose-tinted glasses since sleep has been playing hard to get for a while. One of my favourite things in life is an early night between freshly washed sheets. There's a ritual. It involves relaxing spray and lavender drops, bed socks, a silk eye mask and soothing music. My phone is out of the room. My mind is on sheep. Take a duvet day on Monday, it'll be the best 12 hours you've had in an age.
Brushing up with Cheryl
Last week I hosted the Brush Contest for L'Oréal Paris in London. Hundreds of entrants submitted videos of their make-up looks, with five finalists battling it out for a chance to go to Paris for the world final. Irish make-up artist Emma Farrell was the one who took the prize and she is now in with a chance to win a €100,000 contract! I interviewed Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, who was heading up the judging panel along with legendary make-up artist Val Garland. You may be interested to hear that Cheryl's desert island product would be red lippie in a shade called 'Julianne' (Moore)!
On the fashion fringe
Isa Arfen is currently one of my favourite labels. The London-based line creates beautiful, tailored pieces that are elegant and playful at the same time. I recently wore this fringed skirt (pictured right in Angstagram) that made me wish I was in some faraway island with a bikini top and a piña colada dancing until the sun come up.